Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Although most people agree that taking care of the planet is important, individuals and businesses often disagree about the best use of resources.  Clean air also costs money as companies work to find ways to keep their carbon emissions low.  It has been incredibly difficult to motivate care for the environment through legislation, which is one reason that many states and nations are watching California's new plan.  Read about the plan here, and be sure to think about how the broad themes involved in this current event could relate to an SAT essay prompt.

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover your answer choices so that you can carefully read the sentence without any kind of bias.  When you see two blanks, select the blank that looks easier and focus on it first.  Make a prediction for that blank and eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction.  Then use the same process with the other blank.

While a “rock” is usually defined as ------- , or a combination, of one or more minerals, geologists often ------- the definition to include such materials as clay, loose sand, and certain limestones.

The first blank is a simple vocabulary question, so look at it first.  The word “or” signifies that an alternative is coming, so the words “a combination” is an alternative to whatever goes in the blank.  You can just use the words “a combination” as your prediction and look down at the options for the first blank.

(A) a conglomeration . . limit
(B) an aggregate . . extend
(C) an element . . eliminate
(D) a blend . . restrict
(E) a product . . provide

(A) If you know your Latin roots, you know that the prefix “con” often means “with” or “together.”  This word could be a combination of things, so keep this answer choice.  (B) Here are more Latin roots: “ag” and “greg.” The first prefix, “ag,” can mean “toward” or “in addition to,” while the second, “greg,” means “group.”  This word probably has to do with combining things.  Keep it.  (C) Think about elements in science.  They are as basic as they can be – they are not a combination of other things.  Eliminate this answer choice.  (D)  The word “blend” requires two things to come together, so it could work too.  (E)  The word product does not immediately bring to mind a combination of things, but in math the product of two numbers is a third.  Keep this answer choice if you are not sure that you can eliminate it.

Now look at the second blank.  This blank requires you to use some logic.  The first definition for the word “rock” was very specific, but now geologists are saying that other things can also be considered rocks.  They are stretching that definition or increasing it.  You might predict the word “broaden” before looking down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) a conglomeration . . limit
(B) an aggregate . . extend
(D) a blend . . restrict
(E) a product . . provide

(A) is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate it.  (B) matches your prediction.  (D) is also the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate it.  (E) is not specific enough.  An original definition was already provided, what was important in the second blank is that it was changed to add more stuff.  This answer shows no evidence of any kind of change.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Conglomeration: a cohering mass of different materials
Aggregate: a collection of things into one whole or total
Element: an essential part
Blend: a mixture of two or more things
Product: something created by a process
Extend: to expand or increase
Restrict: to limit or confine

On, 57% of the responses were correct.

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